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Tancred de Hauteville, who became the most famous of the Normans in the South, at first used to surreptitiously disguise themselves as pilgrims to avoid capture.13 In fact, the Normans became so hated by the inhabitants of Italy for the way they ruthlessly plundered and pillaged throughout the country that they induced the retaliation of the Pope himself.14 Leo IX could no longer tolerate their violence against his flock and their encroachment on Papal lands, and so he organized and led an army against them. At the battle of Civitate on 23 June 1053, Leo's troops, who came from the Holy Roman Empire and the Lombard principalities (even the Byzantine Emperor had promised his assistance, but the Greek army did not arrive in time for the fight), confronted the Norman warriors Humphrey de Hauteville, his younger brother Robert Guiscard, and their brother-in-law Richard of Aversa. The expedition failed, however. The Normans defeated Leo and held him in honorable captivity in Benevento until his death on 19 April 1054.15 This episode indicates that the Normans' desire for conquest seems to have outweighed their inclination to defer to the Papacy with regard to secular concerns. That the Normans did not back down from a declaration of Holy War upon them by the Vicar of Saint Peter shows the extent of their ambition, audacity, and unwillingness to yield to the Papacy control over the way they handled their temporal affairs.16

The Normans were not entirely irreverent of the Pope, however. They had attempted in earnest to avoid fighting with the Vicar of Christ, and they begged his forgiveness after they defeated his army. According to Amatus (or Aime) of Monte


13. Ordericus Vitalis, The Ecclesiastical History of England and Normandy, trans. in 4 vols. by Thomas Forester (New York: AMS Press, 1968), 3.5 (v.1, p.437 of the translation).
14. John Julius Norwich, The Normans in Sicily (New York: Penguin Books, 1992), 81f.
15. Douglas, The Norman Achievement, 99f. Norwich, 95. For more on this conflict, see the section on the Normans in the South as "crusaders" of this paper.
16. Norwich 7.

 

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